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Ice hockey, with an emphasis on ice

By Wire services
Published November 23, 2003

EDMONTON, Alberta - Sporting a ski cap over his goalie mask, Jose Theodore could see his own breath and recall his mother's advice.

"When I was 11 or 12 years old, I remember my mom always said, "Put a tuque on, you'll catch a cold,"' Theodore said. "I just wanted to make sure she's not going to say anything when I go back home, so I put a tuque on."

Braving temperatures that hovered around zero and a wind chill that reached 15 below Saturday, the Canadiens beat the Oilers 4-3 in the NHL's first outdoor game.

Theodore made 34 saves in the night game, and Yanic Perreault and Richard Zednik each scored two goals to lead the Canadiens in front of a record crowd at Commonwealth Stadium, a football arena with a rink built in the center of the field. The Oilers said they received requests for more than 700,000 tickets.

In the stands, the 57,167 spectators - more than double the previous NHL record of 28,183 set April 23, 1996, for a Lightning-Panthers game at Tropicana Field - sat bundled in parkas, fleeces, snowsuits and even sleeping bags. They jumped up to do the wave a bit more than usual, trying to keep warm.

"If that's the last game that's played outside, we wanted to be part of history as being the team that won," Canadiens forward Joe Juneau said.

The all-day Heritage Classic followed an old-timers game that featured former stars such as Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur and celebrated the role of outdoor hockey in Canadian culture.

The temperature was 1 below at the start, and players sat on heated benches wearing special long underwear and ski hoods beneath their helmets that covered their ears and necks.

"It's like when we used to go outside as kids and play, then come in for a hot chocolate and go back out," Theodore said. "That's what we did tonight."

Theodore raced to the bench at the commercial breaks to warm his hardened catching glove and blocker. It worked, as he stopped 27 of 28 shots in the first two periods.

Richard Zednik, who had two goals for Montreal, said he enjoyed the experience but not the extreme cold.

"At the bench I was warm," he said. "I didn't like to be on the bench before, but now I was excited to come back and sit."

Yanic Perreault scored two goals for Montreal, and Steve Staios had a goal and two assists for Edmonton. Jarret Stoll and Eric Brewer got the other Oiler goals in what coach Craig MacTavish called a good effort ruined by bad bounces caused by chippy ice from the extreme cold.

In the old-timers game, Gretzky, who played for Edmonton before being traded to Los Angeles in 1988 and playing his first game since 1999, was unable to revive the old magic, but his Oilers alumni beat the Canadiens 2-0.

PANTHERS 3, CAPITALS 2 (OT): Stephen Weiss scored 1:43 into overtime as visiting Florida snapped a three-game losing streak. Weiss took a feed from Viktor Kozlov, barreled past Washington defenseman Brendan Witt in the slot and beat goaltender Olaf Kolzig for his fourth goal this season. The Capitals' Robert Lang scored on a goal-mouth scramble with 59.6 seconds left in regulation to send it to overtime.

PENGUINS 2, SENATORS 1 (OT): Rookie Ryan Malone scored off a rebound at 2:40 of overtime to lift host Pittsburgh. A backhander by Mike Eastwood was stopped by goaltender Patrick Lalime, but Malone scooped up the rebound and scored his fifth goal of the season. Zdeno Chara's power-play goal midway through the third tied it at 1.

BLUE JACKETS 2, ISLANDERS 1: Rick Nash scored his 12th goal midway through the second period and won a key faceoff before host Columbus' other score. ... Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire was recalled for the game because Marc Denis had the flu.

FLYERS 3, BRUINS 2: Mark Recchi's power-play goal broke a tie, helping Philadelphia extend its unbeaten streak to nine. Justin Williams and Simon Gagne also scored for the Flyers, 8-0-1 in their past nine games and 9-0-2 at home this season. Brian Rolston scored both of Boston's goals in a span of 32 seconds in the second period.

FLAMES 2, BLACKHAWKS 1: Dean McAmmond scored with 49 seconds left to give host Calgary the win. McAmmond picked up a loose puck along the boards deep in the Chicago zone and skated toward the net, where he eluded a diving poke check from goalie Craig Anderson and neatly tucked in a backhand.

BLUES 2, STARS 1: Pavol Demitra snapped a third-period tie with his 200th career goal and linemate Keith Tkachuk scored in his first game back from a three-game suspension for host St. Louis. Tkachuk, who missed on a penalty shot in the second period, was suspended for a cross-check to the neck of the Sharks' Rob Davison.

RED WINGS 5, WILD 2: Curtis Joseph made 27 saves and Brett Hull had a goal and two assists for visiting Detroit. The Red Wings trailed 2-1 early in the second before finishing the period with a three-goal flurry.

KINGS 2, AVALANCHE 0: Ziggy Palffy and Dustin Brown scored, Cristobal Huet made 21 saves and Los Angeles ended host Colorado's three-game win streak. Huet, making his third start of the season, posted his second shutout and the third of his career.

[Last modified November 23, 2003, 01:46:45]

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